Several women MPs from various opposition parties joined together to mark the International Women's Day on Tuesday and warn about issues that Croatian women still face, including the gender pay gap and the need for better protecting victims of domestic violence.
Offering best wishes to women on their day, MP Sandra Bencic (Green-Left Bloc) said that she and her colleagues intend to raise key legislative issues in Parliament, including “those related to women and their right to a home, the unfair and unequal ownership of resources, the issue of women workers, and the right to dignity of work and fair pay.”
“We also wanted to express our support for women refugees, notably those from Ukraine, as well as all other women exposed to war, violence, and exile,” Bencic said.
‘Government should secure affordable housing for women victims of violence’
Bencic said they wanted the national and local authorities to engage in securing access to affordable public housing for women who are victims of violence, thus allowing them to exercise their right to have a home.
“How is it possible that perpetrators of domestic violence do not have to leave their households while women and children have to move out to live in shelters? Why has the government failed to secure at least minimal protection for women and children from the perpetrators, who can invade their home after serving only two or three days in prison – the punishment they usually get,” Bencic said.
“We think this should be regulated differently, in cases involving domestic violence the right to a home cannot and must not be treated as any less important than the right of ownership. In this country absolutely nothing has been done for the past 30 years to enable women to acquire ownership of real estate property the same way as men, notably in rural areas where very often they end up in the street and homeless,” said Bencic.
‘Ukrainian women should be provided with basic living and working conditions’
MP Anka Mrak-Taritas (Glas) said that around 22 million women – half of Ukraine’s population – have been affected by the Russian invasion of that country, and were currently either in a life-threatening situation or were on the road, traveling with their children and attempting to reach safety in other countries.
She said that Ukrainian women arriving to Croatia should be provided with at least a minimum of living and working conditions.
MP Katarina Peovic (Workers’ Front) reminded that the International Women’s Day, marked globally on March 8, was established to commemorate the struggle of working women in the American city of Chicago, who asked for voting rights as well as labor rights.
“It is a day when we speak of the need for better pay safer working conditions, and better life for women. That has been recognized by women’s associations across Croatia, and today they are organizing a march under the slogan “March Today, Strike Tomorrow” because they know that there can be no women’s rights without equal property rights, equal wages, and equal working conditions,” she said.
A group of feminist activists based in Zagreb traditionally organize an evening march every year to mark March 8.
“If the new labor law, which the government has been working on for two years, gets passed in Parliament, employers will be literally able to ask any worker to be make themselves available 24 hours a day… While the world is turning towards ideas introducing the “right to disconnect” during non-working hours, this new law aims to make working hours more flexible, and introduces unclear terminology that will make it possible, through digital technology, to make any worker available 24 hours a day,” she said.
MP Katica Glamuzina (Social Democrats) said that in spite of making progress in more than a century of women’s struggle for gender equality, issues like “the pay gap, the fight against gender-based violence, femicide, and ways to break the glass ceiling,” still have to be discussed.
“Without equality for women in society, a sustainable future for the entire world is out of reach,” she said, adding that “one should also talk about climate change, as it affects women more (than men) because women make up the majority of the global population living in poverty and depending on natural resources.”